If you have recently been told you have post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) then you might feel worried or frightened by what this diagnosis means. Perhaps having a name for how you have been feeling up until now has given you some comfort. No matter how you feel, the biggest thing to know is that you aren’t alone. We’re right here beside you – as are many other people and organisations.
In the UK, it is estimated that one in four people experience a mental health problem each year, with 4.4 in 100 being diagnosed with PTSD. According to the NHS, post-traumatic stress disorder affects 1 in 3 people who have a traumatic experience, such as a car crash, be sexually abused, physical assault, near death involvement, time in military combat, witnessing a serious event, being involved in a natural disaster, or many other types of events.
In order to help you cope with your post-traumatic stress disorder, there are many hugely beneficial organisations set up to work with you and offer support, both emotionally and physically. From the NHS to SAMH and Mind, PTSD UK (that’s us!) to the Samaritans – whoever it is you need, you’ll hopefully feel supported through your diagnosis towards a pathway of rehabilitation and recovery.
After your initial diagnosis, it is completely normal to feel a wave of emotions; from relief that your problem has a name and you know why you’re not feeling yourself, to hope that you might be able to find a way of coping with your symptoms, to fear of what your diagnosis means and how it might affect your life, to shock and denial about the fact it is happening to you – there’s a lot to process. Perhaps you feel ashamed or confused, angry about why it has happened to you or a sense of being out of control. It may be that you feel guilty it has happened or a sense of grief for your old life.
No matter how you feel, the best thing to do is stay open with your communication. Share how you are feeling with loved ones, friends, family or a trained professional such as your therapist or doctor. Whoever you choose to talk with it about, you need to be able to trust them. It might also be worth having a confidential chat with your work so they understand what you are going through and can give you any time off you may require. They may also be able to make accommodations for you, such as giving you a quiet office space or moving your desk so you don’t have your back to people.
Treatments and help
Hopefully by now you will have been told about the many available recommended treatments such as EMDR and CBT. There are a lot of medical and natural options, including some less discussed options, including kundalini yoga, equine therapy, ketogenic diet, running, and ocean and surf therapy. You might want to give some of these a go while you wait for the next stages of your treatment to begin. You can take a look on the PTSD UK blog to find out more about the multitude of ways for reducing your symptoms and dealing with your diagnosis – and we even have some practical help with hypervigilance from PTSD. There’s also a lot of other information available to educate you about post-traumatic stress disorder. Knowledge is power and it can help you to feel more in control.
The good news is that with the right treatment and support, PTSD is entirely treatable, and you will eventually start to feel better. It might feel like a long road ahead, and there will potentially be pot-holes for you in that journey, but the good news is that you are on the right path for where you want to be; and we’re here, with you, for the long haul.